Children's hospital and environment benefited from ability to connect




30-12-1917 5-3-2012


BETTY Lewis, the public face of the Good Friday Appeal for the Royal Children's Hospital from 1978 to 1982, has died in Adelaide, aged 94.

Following her move to Melbourne in 1968, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch invited her to join the committee of management of the RCH. This channelled her nursing background, organisational skill and great ability to connect with people. As president of the auxiliaries, she loved visiting the hospital support groups scattered throughout Victoria.

The first-born child of geographer and historian Archie Price and his wife, Babs, Betty was aged seven when the family moved into the fledging St Mark's College at Adelaide University, where her father was first master. Following school, she attended Invergowrie, a mothercraft hostel in Melbourne, and when World War II began she turned to nursing at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

In 1943, she married Bob Lewis, a Victorian and the son of Essington Lewis, Australia's foremost mid-20th century industrialist and began a devoted partnership of 65 years. Bob's appointment as vice-master and later master of St Mark's meant a renewed relationship for Betty with the college where, from 1946 to '67, she was gracious hostess and unofficial matron for sick students.

A burgeoning interest in the environment led to involvement with South Australia's National Parks, and she and Bob bought a cottage at Mount George in the Adelaide Hills. After their stint in Melbourne and Bob's retirement in 1983, they returned to Mount George and threw themselves into environmental issues, including the development of Mount George Conservation Park. Betty was chairman of selectors for the new SA Open Garden Scheme, and in 1995 she was made an honorary fellow of St Mark's College.

She is survived by her children, Diana, David, Trish and Margie, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

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